It is easy to say that all American jobs should be done by Americans and to assume that this would have the most benefits for the economy. But is that the case? Can immigration have a positive impact on the U.S. economy? The answer might surprise you.
A Nation of Immigrants
If you think about it, almost every American citizen is or has descended from immigrants. In fact, the only people who are not are the Native Americans. The United States has the largest population of immigrants in the world but these days immigration is becoming a contentious issue, with many U.S. citizens of the view that foreign workers are having a negative impact on the economy and on the availability of jobs for Americans.
The reality though is that foreign workers actually fuel the U.S. economy. They are filling the roles where there is a shortage of American workers; without them many industries would suffer. According to a 2016 report from the George W. Bush Institute, foreign workers are much more likely to move around according to where the jobs are than the average U.S. citizen, which ultimately helps accelerate growth in the economy.
Contributing to the Economy
Something also worth remembering is that foreign workers in the United States are spending their wages here too. They, like U.S. citizens, spend their money on things like food, electrical items, days out, and other goods and services. As they do this, they contribute to growth and demand for items, which in turn creates more jobs. They are also paying taxes here, which is contributing to GDP. Research shows that immigrants contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
Filling Important Niche Positions
According to the immigration law experts at Graham Adair, foreign workers often fill niche positions in growing sectors. With working visas usually reserved for those with specialist skills, companies are able to fill positions from an overseas pool when they are struggling to find suitable candidates here in the United States. Indeed, many of our doctors, nurses, and teachers are from other countries; without them, we would undoubtedly suffer.
It is also worth noting that many foreign workers are willing to do jobs that might be classed as undesirable by many U.S. citizens. Farmers, for example, often rely on foreign workers to pick their crops.
Is there a Downside to Immigration?
With the benefits listed above, some might think that if immigration has such a positive impact on the economy, that we should just allow everyone to come to the U.S. However, as with most other things in life, immigration has its pros and cons.
One notable downside to immigration is the fact that in some places it can lead to overpopulation. This can have a negative impact on resources in the area with a strain placed on health and education services in particular.
Immigration can also have an impact on wages and can sometimes cause a drop in earnings for U.S. citizens, especially in those on the lowest wages. This is because many unskilled foreign workers are willing to work for a much lower hourly rate. If enough people are willing to work on a low rate, it affects the rate of pay for U.S. citizens. This then has a knock-on effect on the economy as workers have less disposable cash to spend.
Unfortunately, foreign workers are often exploited, even when they are here legally. Immigrants are often taken advantage of and are paid less than their U.S. counterparts, with some even suffering physical abuse or having wages withheld completely by unscrupulous employers.